Preparing for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

     The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which was signed into law on Dec. 29, 2022, will be in effect as of June 27, 2023. Under this law, employers with at least 15 employees must provide reasonable accommodations to workers with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions unless the accommodation will cause the employer an “undue hardship.”

     The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will start accepting charges under the PWFA on the day the law becomes effective for situations complained about having happened on June 27, 2023, or later. However, according to a recent survey by leave and accommodation management solutions provider AbsenceSoft, 43% of HR leaders are either not at all or only somewhat familiar with the PWFA. Nearly half said their HR department is not at all prepared or just starting to prepare for the June 27 deadline. Therefore, to avoid the risks of fines and lawsuits, employers should take steps now to prepare for the PWFA.

This article provides a general outline of the PWFA and actions employers can take now to prepare for the new law.

Importantly, the PWFA does not replace federal, state or local laws that are more protective of workers affected by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. Currently, more than 30 states and localities have laws providing accommodations for pregnant workers.

Who Does the PWFA Protect?

The PWFA protects employees and applications of covered employers who have known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth or other related medical conditions. Covered employers include private- and public-sector employers with at least 15 employees, including federal agencies, employment agencies and labor organizations.

Additionally, covered employers cannot:

  • Require an employee to accept an accommodation without a discussion between the worker and the employer about the accommodation
  • Deny a job or other employment opportunities to a qualified employee or applicant based on the person’s need for a reasonable accommodation
  • Require an employee to take leave if another reasonable accommodation can be provided that would let the employee keep working
  • Retaliate against an individual for reporting or opposing unlawful discrimination under the PWFA or participating in a PWFA proceeding, such as an investigation
  • Interfere with any individual’s right under the PWFA

Download the full PDF here – Preparing for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

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